When It Comes to Selling, Girl Scout Markita Andrews Is a Real Cookie Monster

updated 03/22/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/22/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST

For Markita Andrews, 10, the annual Girl Scout cookie drive is a piece of cake. Since joining up as a Brownie four years ago, she has become the undisputed sales champ in New York City (and probably the country, although national statistics are not kept). Last year Markita sold a record 2,256 boxes during the three-week campaign, and an extra 750 at delivery time, earning the Scouts $4,509. This year, despite the recession, she topped her initial sale by peddling 2,628 boxes at $1.75 each and expects to sell up to 600 more when she delivers in May.

Although she is an obvious natural at sales, Markita recalls, "The first year I was shy and afraid I might mess up." Chaperoned by her aunt, the youngster, then 6, traveled door to door at the Lincoln Towers, a 3,900-unit apartment complex in Manhattan where she lives with her mother, Mary Lou. Markita racked up sales of $810 on 648 boxes. The next year, 1979, her door-to-door campaign ran into trouble when an old woman complained. Confined to selling in the lobby, Markita swooped down on customers as they came home from work or on Saturdays when the mailman arrived. Her tally was 1,148 boxes, and in 1980 it jumped to 2,100.

As word of Markita's success spread, Walt Disney Studios commissioned the Glyn Group to make an 11-minute sales training film about her. Entitled The Cookie Kid, it shows Markita's persistent but polite soft sell. The film has been used to motivate salespeople in more than 100 companies, including Xerox, IBM and Avon. How does Markita take to all the fanfare? "It's nice," she admits, "because you get to be important."

Markita, whose parents are separated, was born in Hollywood and moved to New York in 1977 with her mother, a waitress. She became a Brownie to make friends. Besides choosing her customers carefully (she stays clear of those in a hurry or in a bad mood), Markita knows all the selling points of the seven varieties of Girl Scout cookies (caramel-covered Samoas are her favorite) and how to close a deal. "You just can't chat," she advises, "you have to ask for an order." Most important, Markita says, "When you are tired, you can't quit. You have to keep trying."

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